September 23, 2007 Subject:
Sorry... but he's necked a few sherberts
May 19, 2003 Subject:
Time for a chesterfield!
Arthur Godfrey (See Classic Commercials volume 3) takes to the skies and teaches us (and um.. anyways) all the different knobs and controls of an airplane. Being an OBVIOUSLY proud pilot, he relishes every minute of this picture, which makes this plane orgy that much more interesting. After flying from New York to Miami (and having a smoke (the aformentioned Chesterfield) and a nap (!) he lands in Miami, and hooks up with some jet pilots which take him on a jet trip to demonstrate what was then newfangled jet technology. It all wraps up with Godfrey visiting the Eastern Airlines president and back slapping with him, telling us all about the future of plane travel (love the helicopter idea). This is a beautiful picture (as all Jerry Fairbanks pictures seem to be) and is quite interesting.
February 22, 2003 Subject:
The Old Red Head Rides Again
This was a great 2 part series. Arthur Godfrey, a man of many talents and accomplishments, demonstrates via this quasi documentary/Eastern Airlines promo, some absolute basics and refinements about flying an airplane in commercial service during the 1950's.
His plane of choice for this discourse, was the Lockheed Super Constellation or more affectionately known as a "Connie." Arthur deftly relates the technicalities of flying in the most simple and understandable way. This movie having as its star Arthur Godfrey, who was a television mainstay during the 1950's sponsored by Lipton Tea with his Talent Scouts TV program, also featured another famous celebrity of the twentieth century and that was Captain Eddie Rickenbacker. He was on par by reputation with Charles Lindberg and by accomplishments the greater of the two. It was a treat to get a glimpse of him along with Arthur.
Arthur Godfrey owned two planes as he indicates in this program. What may have been forgotten by now too is that shortly after this was produced in 1954 he got into a little trouble buzzing an airport control tower doing a stunt. It sure was big news back then.
Also of note is during the flight to Miami in this movie, he offers a Chesterfield cigarette to the flight crew with the co-pilot proclaiming he does not smoke but the flight engineer readily taking one. They light up and Arthur sits back in the pilots chair while at the cruising altitude of 22,000 feet and declares "This is the life." Several years later he was diagnosed with lung cancer and was passed over by several surgeons that had considered him inoperable. Godfrey was determined to live and sought for a surgeon whom he typified as having to be "one mean son of a bitch" who would be willing to take the risk to operate on him. He found such a doctor and lost a entire lung to cancer and survived to live to be an old man. As a result of his cancer, he from then on refused to advertise any product that could be harmful to people.
Arthur Godfrey finished out his entertainment career doing radio on the CBS radio network. He did a 2 hour morning show called "Godfrey and Friends" which was basically talking with other celebrities as they came and went out of the New York City CBS studios. The last show aired in early 1968. He was a very interesting man and a very independent one at that. He was probably unlikeable by most people who knew him. When he passed away, it was hardly noted in the media, even though he had been a television pioneer that had a following of millions. He would endear himself to the audience sometimes by playing the ukulele on the air. I guess it was one of his gimmicks but he had fun. Also he is famous for the "live on air" firing of staff singer Julius La Rosa during one of the Talent Scouts programs. Pretty wild!!!
Arthur was plugged in with and friends with Bill Paley and Frank Stanton who ran CBS. He also got his start on radio and I would like to mention one story that got him noticed and led eventually to his big break.
Back in the 20's radio was evolving and very often the announcers would have to create the commercials because the first advertisers did not provide copy to be read. Ever being an opportunist and trying to do his best to promote whatever it was he was pitching, he would rely upon his own devices sometimes.
Once he was told to advertise a ladies personal product, I forget exactly what it was, but he did the commercial in such a way that he claimed to feel a little embarrassed and flustered and if the women could see him, they would see how red faced he was. Well, that excited the women listeners so much so that they went out and bought up every one of the items he pitched because he intimated that it was something a woman could use that would get her husband aroused. He was a clever man. Very inventive.
I feel he used that same enthusiasm for getting a point across with his enthusiasm for flying. He really enjoyed doing this documentary and it shows. And in the end he even did a public service by flying in a military jet and telling Mom & Dad and the young men watching, to seek a career in the Air Force or Naval Air Service. Back then with the cold war developing it was difficult to get career based enlistees due to the poor wage scales and spartan life the military offered. Arthur told Mom & Dad that it was a good thing for their young men to consider and he told the young men to think about it. It was a very simple, honest and straight forward "looking one in the eye" approach and sincerely entreating them to give it a chance.
Great documentary. It dotted all the "i"'s and crossed all the "t"'s and was fine entertainment at the same time.